When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in your mailbox? Today’s typical home receives a personal letter about every seven weeks. According to the U.S. Postal Service the striking decline in letter-writing is “primarily driven by the adoption of the Internet as a preferred method of communication.” But unlike e-communications, handwritten notes are unique because they are capable of engaging people on a deeper level than other forms of communication.
They can differentiate your company from others by positioning you as a thoughtful and appreciative organization that takes the time to go the extra mile. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference in customer experience.
“There are lots of digital methods of communication, and my clients are bombarded via those channels every day. A handwritten note takes time but shows that they’re worth the effort.”
– Julia Angelen Joy, Z Group PR, Founder.
So, why is the pen dead in our industry? In the 2015 EPMS follow-up study of more than 44,000 completed leasing shops, only 5.4% of leasing professionals put their pen to paper, 31.6% chose the telephone, 33.2% selected email, and 45.5% simply did not conduct any follow-up with the prospect. Why is the handwritten note method so low? During a recent training session we asked a group of employees, “Why don’t you send handwritten thank you cards?” Their consensus was clear—time—it takes too much time and email is quicker. If email takes less than a minute from start to finish and the handwritten note takes three minutes, is the difference worth gaining a more loyal customer? Of course!
Here are 5 reasons to resuscitate the pen and paper.
- It’s Personal. There’s something very personal and satisfying when you open an envelope and find a hand-scripted note. It packs more punch than the thank you that shows up on the screen. It speaks to the fact that customers who feel they are treated as individuals are more satisfied with their experience and more inclined to remain loyal. Loyal customers buy more, purchase more often, cost less to serve, and have higher retention rates.
- It’s a Lost Art. Technology has actually made the handwritten note somewhat of a lost art, allowing it to have an even larger impact today than it would have in years past.
- It Speaks Service. Thank you notes serve as an element within customer service that show you are willing to go that extra mile for customers. Customer experiences that evoke positive emotions always win.
- It’s a Differentiator. In an increasingly impersonal digital world, sending a thank you card in the mail is a great way to distinguish yourself and your company from the rest and connect with customers in a meaningful way.
- It is Rare. Handwritten thank you notes radiate personality. Your recipients of a pen and paper thank you note will know that time and consideration was taken. Pair that with how rare handwritten thank you notes are today, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
In this fast paced digital world, people gravitate toward things that warm their heart. Your product and service may be wonderful, but you have to set yourself apart from the other communities just like yours. To your customers, you are only as good as their last transaction with you. A personalized thank you note just might make the difference between a “thanks for your help” and “when can we move in?” Give your customers something that they can’t find anywhere else.
Maria Lawson, VP of Training and Development
Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS)